2At What Age Should a Child Have a First Phone?
3Mobile Tools for Parents
4Communicate Offline, Too
5The Safely Family of Apps
6AT&T Mobile Safety
7Prepaid or Family Plan?
For some young users, parents may prefer a month-to-month prepaid plan. These often allow users to sign up and bring their own phones (often hand-me-downs from parents). Consumer Reports has given high ratings to Walmart’s Straight Talk Wireless brand, which offers an unlimited talk, text and data plan for $45 a month. Talk-and-text-only plans can be had for a fraction of that.
8Family Plans on the Top Carriers
9Three Lines, $90 a Month
10Family Data Shares
AT&T and Verizon both charge for a data allotment shared between devices, plus the cost of the type of the device connected to the network. Data aside, Verizon charges $30 for a feature phone and $40 for a smartphone. AT&T adjusts its per-device pricing based on the amount of data purchased. Family Base is a Verizon tool similar to AT&T’s Smart Limits.
11Sprint’s Unlimited Offer
For those who don’t want to worry about data limits, Sprint offers unlimited data for $30 a month, not including the cost of the device. Three smartphones, each with unlimited high-speed data, calling and texts, is $180 a month—about the same amount that three users with smartphones would pay to share 2GB of data per month on AT&T or Verizon.
12Texting, Data, Games, Videos
While it used to be calls that drove up phone bills, today it’s texting and data usage. A 2012 Pew Internet study found teenage girls send and receive a median of 100 texts per day. A 2013 Pew study, “Teens and Technology,” said 25 percent of teens said they mostly access the Internet via their phones; among older teen girls with smartphones, that figure jumped to 55 percent.
13Contracts—the Other Kind
Safely.com offers a “Family Phone Agreement” that lays out some good-sense rules. AT&T does, as well. It includes things like promising not to give out personal information or share passwords and to tell parents about “creepy messages from people I don’t know.”